Study Shows Significant Test Score Increases in LA Schools Using ST Math

Lauren Williams's picture
Friday, May 10, 2013

With the acceleration of blended learning amid ongoing debate about the real-world effectiveness of digital content, a new study shows Los Angeles Unified School District is getting results. An independent study by WestEd released today shows that the non-profit MIND Research Institute’s ST Math® instructional software has made a statistically significant impact on student math performance across 45 LAUSD elementary schools.

The rigorous analysis, which adhered to federal What Works Clearinghouse specifications, found a statistically significant difference in the average percentage of students in two groups: those scoring advanced and those scoring advanced or proficient on the California Standards Test (CST) in 2011.

Additionally, the new study found ST Math’s effect size across the grades to be 0.41 – well beyond the federal What Works Clearinghouse criteria of 0.25 for “substantively important” effect. The effect size shows the higher growth in math proficiency at the ST Math schools compared to the control schools.

“We’re very pleased to have outside verification of the efficacy of our game-changing math education program,” said Andrew R. Coulson, president of the education division at MIND Research Institute. “The potential for eliminating the achievement gap by visionary districts adopting and implementing ST Math with fidelity is clear.”

The 45 LAUSD schools analyzed were from the lowest 30% of statewide performance and serve a demographic that is about 95% low-income, 85% Hispanic, 8% African American and 45% English language learner. The 45 schools in the evaluation included more than 9,000 second, third, fourth and fifth graders using ST Math.

This study marks the first independent confirmation of the approach MIND Research uses to analyze large cohorts of 10 or more schools. There are 20 similar analyses across the country to which this independently validated technique can now be applied. ST Math is currently used by half a million students in 30 states, including large urban districts such as Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

“When educators find tools that have been proven to work the way ST Math has, they should take note,” said education industry expert Tom Vander Ark. “Teachers and students deserve, and should demand, effective educational technology solutions.”

This cohort of LAUSD schools accessed ST Math through the philanthropically funded Los Angeles Math Initiative, whose supporters include Verizon, Boeing, Hyundai, Capital Group, the Whitman-Harsh Family Foundation, the Leonetti/O'Connell Family Foundation and many more. The Seaver Institute provided initial funding for this research study based on LA schools.

Just south of Los Angeles, the Santa Ana Unified School District provides a dramatic example of longitudinal results achieved by schools using ST Math, according to an analysis by MIND Research. SAUSD, which serves 28,000 elementary students – 87% low-income and 95% Hispanic – effectively closed the achievement gap by moving from 35% proficiency in math to the state average of 67% after introducing ST Math at almost all of its schools.

About the WestEd study: The WestEd analysis was conducted using publicly available grade-average math performance. The findings are based on an intent-to-treat analysis, which is considered a conservative estimate of impact because it includes schools regardless of extent to which they implemented the program. The results were compared against two groups of LAUSD schools not using ST Math: one comparison group selected by MIND and the other selected by WestEd. Results were statistically significant against both comparison groups.

About WestEd 
WestEd, a national nonpartisan, nonprofit research, development, and service agency, works with education and other communities to promote excellence, achieve equity, and improve learning for children, youth, and adults. WestEd has 16 offices nationwide, from Washington and Boston to Arizona and California. Its corporate headquarters are in San Francisco. More information about WestEd is available at WestEd.org.

MIND Research Institute 
MIND Research Institute is a neuroscience and education research-based, non-profit corporation. MIND applies its distinctive visual approach to illustrating math concepts and building problem-solving skills as the basis for innovative, research-proven math education programs for elementary and secondary schools. MIND’s programs currently reach over 500,000 students and 21,000 teachers in more than 1,780 schools in 30 states. More:http://www.mindresearch.net.